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THE BURNING BUSH
 

Volume 12 Number 2, July 2006

 

BOMET BIBLE INSTITUTE AND AFRICA GOSPEL UNITY CHURCH: A MISSIONS REPORT

Carol Lee

 Introduction

On the invitation of Rev Michael Koech, I made my first visit to the so-called dark continent of Africa in December 2005. It turned out to be a most blessed two weeks in Bomet (Kenya), where I ministered with Rev Koech and Pastor Jonathan Langat who are both alumni of FEBC. (Bomet is a town about 3 hoursí drive from the capital, Nairobi.)

Having graduated from FEBC with his BTh (1987), Rev Koech founded the Bomet Bible Institute (BBI) and is one of the leaders in his denomination: the Africa Gospel Unity Church (AGUC) which has 125 churches with about 3,000 members and 10 pastors in 8 districts. Congregation size ranges from 15 to 250 members. He returned to FEBC in 2003 and completed his MDiv in May 2005.

Pastor Jonathan who graduated from FEBC with his MDiv in 2003 is Pastor of Bomet AGUC and Vice-Principal of BBI (which holds to the verbal, plenary preservation of the words of God). He also has a weekly ministry in a nearby prison and lectures at the Faith College of the Bible (FCB) in Nairobi a week per month.

My Teaching Ministry

During the short two weeks there, I spoke at two youth camps, taught a one-week course at the BBI, spoke to the Young Teens at the Bomet DVBS, and conducted impromptu teacher training.

The two youth camps shared the same theme "Exposing False Teachings." At Bomet, it was attended by some 300 participants, including a contingent from Sengerema (Tanzania) led by their pastor, Rev Martin. I spoke on the topics "Error of Charismatic Prophecy, Visions and Dreams," "Error of Faith Healing" and "Foundations of Christian Living." At Chepalungu, there were about 60 participants perched on benches, many without Bibles but diligently noting Bible references in their little notebooks. (I found out later, that many can afford to have only one Bible per family.) Here I spoke on the topic "Error of Charismatic Prophecy, Visions and Dreams." The taxi ride from Bomet to Chepalungu was a 10-minute smooth drive on the highway followed by a one-hour, bumpy and dusty drive, with the taxi swerving ever so often from one side of the dirt track to the other as the driver tries to find the least bumpy way, at times slowing down to a crawl as the taxi dips in and out of "holes" on the dirt track!

The 20-hour course ("Adult Christian Education") at the BBI was conducted over four days and was attended by 35 participants: 14 full-time BBI students and 21 pastors and church leaders, all of whom sat for the two-hour examination on the fifth day. The participantsí positive attitude, eagerness to learn and attentiveness remained unabated throughout the four days, making the class a pleasure to teach. At the suggestion of Pastor Jonathan, the pastors will give progress reports during their Pastorsí Conference in April 2006 on how they have been putting into practice what they had learnt during this one-week course.

The DVBS at Bomet was attended by about 80 children. I taught three lessons to the Teens. After the children had left for the day, at the request of the teachers, I conducted two Bible knowledge classes for the six teachers.

A Lordís Day at a Village Church

Rev Koech usually walks half an hour on a dirt track (on a dry day, it is hot and dusty; on a wet day, it is cold and the track muddy) to minister to the AGUC at Kabisoge. But this Lordís Day, we had the honour of taking a taxi there. After a bumpy drive, as we walked towards the church building, the sound of joyful chorus singing by four sisters (three of whom were born blind) seated on a wooden bench outside the church building greeted every worshipper. The church building is a wooden shack on a field surrounded by other fields of farm land. The building is no bigger than a HDB bedroom, with a lectern-like wooden structure serving as the pulpit. Behind the pulpit, beams of sunlight come through the gaps of the upright wooden planks that form the back wall.

The young worship leader invited the congregation members to present praise items. One went up to sing praises to God. Another joined her. Followed by another, and another. Almost automatically, a small choir was formed behind the pulpit and the sanctuary was filled with their melodious, heartfelt singing accompanied by a drum and a kayumba (a flat box-like instrument, held by both hands at waist-level, which rattles as it is shaken horizontally). Holding yellowed, dog-earred song books, they sang lifting the hearts of the 42 congregation members heavenward in preparation for the preaching of the Word of God. Although not understanding a word of Swahili, the songs under the control of the Spirit ministered to my spirit. At the end of the service, the young worship leader, adjusted his backpack and was ready for his 20-km-trek under the blazing hot sun to go to another church to serve in their DVBS!

Life at Bomet

Although December is a time of rain and sowing of seeds, there was not a drop of rain during my two weeksí stay in Bomet, and many fields, although ploughed, were left waiting for the rain to come before seeds could be sown. Now I know what "a dry and thirsty land" really means! And by the end of my stay, I almost forgot what a flushing toilet sounds like. Water is really precious! The normal diet includes ugali (their staple food, prepared by stirring corn flour into boiling water), potatoes, carrots, and a variety of beans. Occasionally, meat (beef or chicken) is served.

While we busied ourselves in the day, evening time saw us coming together for family worship led by Pastor Jonathan. Even Pastor Jonathanís one-year-old son, Kibett, is not left out of family worship. Such is the blessing of a Christian home where young and old, "red and yellow, black and white, all are precious in His sight," can gather at the feet of Jesus at the end of each day.

The Needs of the Ministry at Bomet

The following are prayer requests for the work at Bomet under the leadership of Rev Koech and Pastor Jonathan:

(1) The possibility of acquiring a 10-acre piece of land for the expansion of the work.

(2) The needs at BBI: (i) to increase its library book collection (ii) to help students to acquire books to build up a basic book collection of their own.

(3) Pray for the pastors and church leaders that they may be able to receive the minimum basic training they need so as to minister to their flocks.

(4) There is a great shortage of published materials. Pray for the possibility of establishing 8 district libraries for the pastorsí own continuing education/training.

(5) Missions plan of Bomet: Pray for Rev Koech, Pastor Jonathan and Rev Martin as they look into possibility of establishing a Bible institute at Sengerema (Tanzania).

My Thanksgiving

I thank God for FEBCís financial support of this trip, for Godís safe keeping during my time in Kenya, for the avenues of service, and for the warm fellowship experienced. Thank God for Rev and Mrs Koech and their daughter Martha, for their kind hospitality, for Pastor Jonathan and his wife Demaris for including me in their family, and especially for Demaris who took such good care of me. Thank God also for the opportunity to visit the Bible College of East Africa (BCEA) in Nairobi on my way to the airport.

"And the gospel must first be published among all nations" (Mark 13:10). "Declare his glory among the heathen, his wonders among all people" (Ps 96:3).

Carol Lee is a lecturer in Christian Education at Far Eastern Bible College, and serves full-time at Truth Bible-Presbyterian Church.

 

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